My 30th year high school Class Reunion

My 30th year high school Class Reunion, Farmington High School Graduating Class of 1980

Lori Purdy Faitel “AM I BRAIN DAMAGED”

July 18, 2010

Last night was a blast! I got so many hugs and kisses!!!!!!! I gave so many hugs and kisses.

A classmate of mine found my husband’s business phone number about 2 years ago, called and left a message that we had graduated from High School together and she wanted to be sure something was going to happen for our 30th.  My husband played the recording to me and I called her back later that evening.  I live in Michigan and she lives in California.  The person I am referring to is Kelly.

Kelly worked and sent out letters, email and contacted people in every way she could think of for almost two years.  A few of us classmates worked with Kelly as best we could from whatever venue was available to us.  I did leg work because I live about 30 minutes from our hometown.

Others worked online, telephone whatever they could do.

No formal reunion was in place so we took the task and ran with it.  We decided the best choice was to find a bar atmosphere in the general location of our Alma matter and for the event to take place on one of the nights of the Cities annual festival.

Three of us met at the designated bar on Thursday evening, the event was on Saturday, beginning at 6:30.  We discussed final touches; spoke to the point of contact at the bar, and discussed who we thought might attend.  We thought less than 50 classmates plus some spouses would attend. We reviewed everyone from our yearbook.

Last night, Saturday, for about 2 hours it was standing room only! Being one of the planners I tried to see  that things were moving well. At the most populated time last night between saying, “pardonme, excuse me, pardon me” and hugging and kissing it took me an hour to move from one end to the other.  This establishment had seating for 80 people comfortably so I hope you can imagine how overwhelming it was.

I actually had no preconceived image of how the event would unfold. Classmates sort of came and went, like an open house. It was very much like one of the parties we had in High School in our parent’s homes.  I was on my feet from 6:30 to 10:30 PM roaming from person to person. Kisses and Hugs and Kisses and

Hugs. Many people looked different but the same. Once I came close to each person to hug them and was able to look them in the eyes, those that I had contact with in school, I remembered.  (Sorry Tom, you just looked like a tall Dave J) There were less than 10 people that I completely did not know, they did not know me in return so we hugged and we were happy.

Ha Ha Ha Ha, at one point I was talking to a group of men who I was familiar with, I looked them in the eyes and sized themup, as they were yesterday. I am sure they did the same. I smiled hugged them and said “I love bald men, I have one at home.”

Some people got bigger, some got thinner, some seemed to get taller, some had more hair and some people like me who were blondes in High School had brown hair. By the end of the night some spouses were in character as if they also were classmates, they would hug classmates then contrive a classmate personality! It was so fun!!!!!!!!!!! (Mr. Connie-the other Dave Erwin)

I spent two hours before leaving my home to prepare for the event. I washed dried, curled and fluffed my hair.

I put what I call my “country music make up on”, lots of eyeliner and mascara and donned a bright cheerful casual Capri outfit.

Yesterday was a hot humid Michigan day, it was mid  July and I didn’t dare walk outside once I was coiffed. At one point a classmate, Marilyn took me aside and whispered in my ear “I know you want to know this, go in the bathroom because your mascara is dripping” I went to the bathroom, I had waterproof make up on.  Not only was my mascara dripping but also my thick dark brown eyeliner had rolled down my face from my right eye almost to my mouth.  I did my best with only the materials that were in the public bathroom; paper towel, toilet paper and hand soap to remove the black lines across my face. Then I tried to put my face back together.   I had only brought my lipstick in my purse.  By the end of the night I pretty much had no make up on.  Despite what I believed to be a less attractive me, people continued to hug and kiss me all night. I love my graduatingclass!

Initially people spoke very carefully about my dreaded, life devastated, Traumatic Brain Injury. In 1986, six years after High School Graduation, I was in an automobile accident on the way to work one morning. My windshield became visually impenetrable as a bale of hay fell off a construction truck in the lane ahead of me, on the freeway. My car then rolled into cement construction blocks on the side of the road.

I was pronounced dead twice in the ambulance before

I was admitted to the hospital. The EMS guys brought me back to life and I spent the next 7 days in a coma at the hospital.  After 6 years of private and professional therapeutic study I once again was able to enter the world of the healthy/non-brain injured.

At the time of the brain injury my brain went from the functioning of the 24 year old I was to that of a preborn child.

After 2 years I had re-learned to walk, talk, eat, and use the bathroom; I clinically had normal brain functioning.

In better terms I could read and function as well as anyone who had an Eighth grade education. CAN YOU BELIVEVE NORMAL BRAIN FUNCTION FOR AN ADULT; THE MEDICAL SOCIETY HAD DETERMINED TO BE THAT OF EIGHT-GRADE EDUCATION! That was in the 1980’s.

As soon as I could write again, I guess my brain function to be about equal to a 5 year old, I began making notes to help me organize my thoughts. Those notes became a reference source which enabled me to personally work and re-gain what I had mentally lost.  In February of 2009 I put many notebooks into a readable story. I self published my book “Am I Brain Damaged?” and have since been visiting brain injury support functions to motivate other survivors and educate the general public. News of my book had spread among my classmates before and during the reunion.

Myself and a few others and  refrained from alcohol during our 30th. We were the not many in number, whatever I just couldn’t afford to get crazy. By the end of the night I think everyone heard how happy and blessed I have been in that I have lived to enjoy the world and people around me with a bright fresh outlook. I left the event around midnight and the crowd had died to about 50 or so people. I spent about 30 minutes “hugging” my way out the door. I returned to the establishment 3 times before getting into my car to leave, I had to retrieve items I had almost forgotten such as my yearbook and a card for a classmate who could not attend.  Each time I opened the door it was like an episode from the television series “cheers” people would laugh “Lori’s back again”

The High School Reunion is something I will hold dear in my heart for years to come, and I look forward to each new one.  As a Brain Injury Survivor I want to share with other survivors and their families how I felt no animosity or special treatment but I embraced love and new/renewed friendships all evening. I suggest everyone brain injured or not attend all class reunions; some of us only live once.


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